2010-10-14 17:10:49

Intervention of Mons. Berhaneyesus Demerew SOURAPHIEL, President of the Council of the Ethiopian Church, President of the Episcopal Conference (Ethiopia and Eritrea) (ETHIOPIA)

Ethiopia has about 80 million inhabitants, half of whom will be approximately below the age of 25. The great challenge which the country faces is poverty and its consequences, such as, unemployment. Many of the youth, aspiring to escape poverty, attempt, by any means, to emigrate. Those who emigrate to the Middle East are mostly young women who go legally or illegally to seek employment as domestic workers because most of them lack professional training. In order, to facilitate their travels, the Christians change their Christian names into Muslim names, and dress as Muslims so that their visas could be processed easily. This way, Christians are indirectly forced to deny their Christian roots and heritage.
According to the data from the Ministry of Labour and Socia1 Affairs and the International Organization of Migration, 13,498 Ethiopian workers migrated to the Middle East between September 2005 and August 2006. (www. American Chronicle/Ethiopia Human Trafficking Hub in the Horn of Africa.html). Their destinations are usually Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Khuwait, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. On average, about 12,500 Ethiopians leave annually to the Middle East.
Even if there are exceptions where workers are treated well and with kindness, the great majority suffer exploitations and abuses. Many are ashamed to return back to Ethiopia where their families expect them to return with lots of money; however, some are forced to return back desperate, sick, and mentally disturbed. The Christians who die in Saudi Arabia seem not to be allowed to be buried there; their bodies are flown to Ethiopia for burial. Could the Saudi authorities be requested to allocate a cemetery for Christians in Saudi Arabia?
Many Ethiopians turn to the Catholic Churches of the Middle East for assistance and counselling. I will like to thank the Catholic Hierarchies in the Middle East who are doing their best to assist the victims of abuse and exploitation. We are grateful, for example, for the great work of Caritas Lebanon. Modem migration is looked upon as "modern slavery". But let us remember that today's migrants shall be tomorrow's citizens and leaders either in their host countries or in their home countries.

[00093-02.02] [IN058] [Original text: English]

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